Gopher softball 2021

Hrothgar

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I agree about the expectations for 2021, but from the gitgo they need to be a lot better than they were in 2020. 2021 pitching should be strong enough. Sorely needed, though, will be some true clutch hitting & long ball power to back up Jensen, Partain, and DenHartog. Also significantly improved defense from catching, first base, and at least one outfield position is necessary.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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At this point, I think they really "go for it" every year. And what I mean by that is they intend to win a Big 10 title (regular season or tournament) and get a seed (hopefully a top-eight) in the NCAAs.

The program has built itself to a place where that level of expectation is warranted.

Whether they reach those goals remains to be seen, but they certainly haven't backed away from challenges in recent years.

I understand where you at coming from, especially as regards to year-in year-out expecting to be the premier or co-premier softball team of the Big Ten Conference. Over the last 5 or so years that expectation has become a realistic expectation that I accept that and have that expectation as well.

I will quibble with you in regards to team rosters like Minnesota not being strategically managed understanding some years will be more developmental-focused and other years will be less “developmental”. I believe strategic roster management should happen for a team like the Gophers; but this coming year (2021) is not one of those... it’s all out.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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I agree about the expectations for 2021, but from the gitgo they need to be a lot better than they were in 2020. 2021 pitching should be strong enough. Sorely needed, though, will be some true clutch hitting & long ball power to back up Jensen, Partain, and DenHartog. Also significantly improved defense from catching, first base, and at least one outfield position is necessary.

Hrothgar, the reason I am so bullish on 2021 is we basically have that same lineup as we did in that somewhat rocky 2020 season, but with 9 new bat swingers (8 Freshman plus 1 transfer)! That is just too many people and therefore mathematically at least some of them must be able to hit college pitching. They have to... right?

I just think this 5th year compensatory season of eligibility for our seniors came at the perfect time for our program’s present and future. Bringing Fiser, Partain, Kemmetmueller and Brandt back for this 5th season along with our normal roster for 2021 is just a big boost. Without this group of 5th year seniors, especially Fiser, I do fear this would have been a developmental year in waiting for Emily Leavitt to get here in 2022 to strengthen our pitching staff.
 

Hrothgar

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What I know is what I saw on the field in 2020. We went to FLA expecting to see a superb team off a WCWS berth in 2019. What I saw was a lackluster team without any visible drive to win, mediocre hitting, and ordinary defense. Maybe the change in coaching will help, and hopefully the 2021 team will feature some high caliber new talent. Winning the BIG title and progresssing through the NCAAs will require some uplift in performance, both at the plate on offense and behind it on defense.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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What I know is what I saw on the field in 2020. We went to FLA expecting to see a superb team off a WCWS berth in 2019. What I saw was a lackluster team without any visible drive to win, mediocre hitting, and ordinary defense. Maybe the change in coaching will help, and hopefully the 2021 team will feature some high caliber new talent. Winning the BIG title and progresssing through the NCAAs will require some uplift in performance, both at the plate on offense and behind it on defense.

Hrothgar, the team you saw in 2020 was not as good as the 2019 team. I don’t think coaching had anything to do with it. It was the players that were different. You expected to see Brandner, our most powerful slugger, and she wasn’t there. Jensen wasn’t healthy yet.

The team you saw lost Houlihan (2- batter), Smith (quality 2 pitcher), Arneson (short-stop witch is often a team’s best athlete) and Brandner (3-batter)... with only Smith being fully replaced by Pease. The 2020 team was good, but could not dominate against the teams you saw them play against.

I just think in 2021, for the reasons I stated in earlier posts, that those 9 new players and a healthy Jensen WILL be able to fully replace Brandner, Arneson, and Houlihan and we will be a darn good team... maybe even dominant.

Now we just need to get a full 2021 softball schedule announced for the Spring. If it isn’t a full schedule, I will be even more depressed in this era of COVID.
 

Hrothgar

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Hrothgar, the team you saw in 2020 was not as good as the 2019 team. I don’t think coaching had anything to do with it. It was the players that were different. You expected to see Brandner, our most powerful slugger, and she wasn’t there. Jensen wasn’t healthy yet.

The team you saw lost Houlihan (2- batter), Smith (quality 2 pitcher), Arneson (short-stop witch is often a team’s best athlete) and Brandner (3-batter)... with only Smith being fully replaced by Pease. The 2020 team was good, but could not dominate against the teams you saw them play against.

I just think in 2021, for the reasons I stated in earlier posts, that those 9 new players and a healthy Jensen WILL be able to fully replace Brandner, Arneson, and Houlihan and we will be a darn good team... maybe even dominant.

Now we just need to get a full 2021 softball schedule announced for the Spring. If it isn’t a full schedule, I will be even more depressed in this era of COVID.
Good comments, class of 98. I don't pretend to be an expert and I root for the Gophers as a fan only. What I saw in 2020, before it abruptly ended, was a team unable to compete talent-wise and unprepared to do so mentally, as witnessed by lapses at the plate and in the field. Isn't it the coaching staff's job to address those problems?
 

MRJ

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Looks like conference only schedules for Big 10 softball and baseball.

Not surprising. Until Covid gets sorted out, I have a feeling most conferences are going to try and limit schedules as much as possible while still trying to get a full season in.

It sucks, but at least they're still planning on having a season.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Not surprising. Until Covid gets sorted out, I have a feeling most conferences are going to try and limit schedules as much as possible while still trying to get a full season in.

It sucks, but at least they're still planning on having a season.

My question is WHERE are these Big Ten (northern) teams going to play each other?Florida? If not, instead if a 55 game season it will be a 25-30 game season.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Looks like conference only schedules for Big 10 softball and baseball.
I’ve thought about this for many days now and I understand how an all-conference schedule may help southern schools balance COVID spread with getting games in. However it seems all-around bad for northern teams. Northern teams have to travel South anyway to get any games in in February and much of March.

Softball is a socially distant sport, of sorts, played outside in the open air. I just think Big Ten teams and their conference leadership should fight for a traditional schedule.
 

FormerFatOL

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My question is WHERE are these Big Ten (northern) teams going to play each other?Florida? If not, instead if a 55 game season it will be a 25-30 game season.

I know this would never happen with the popularity of televised CWS/WCWS, but 2021 could be the perfect season for both northern softball and baseball teams to create their own season that starts later and stretches into the summer. Dreaming.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Good Piper Ritter interview in the In The Circle podcast.

I just can’t help but come back to this recurring point; this 2021 team should be plenty darn good. College softball in general, and the Big Ten, just need to find the way to get this team on the field. I am going a little crazy in the COVID-era without my sports entertainment. I can only imagine how crazy the players and staff are going absent the competitive game. Let’s get a schedule!
 

goherfan48

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Good Piper Ritter interview in the In The Circle podcast.

I just can’t help but come back to this recurring point; this 2021 team should be plenty darn good. College softball in general, and the Big Ten, just need to find the way to get this team on the field. I am going a little crazy in the COVID-era without my sports entertainment. I can only imagine how crazy the players and staff are going absent the competitive game. Let’s get a schedule!
yes, is was a very good interview
 

Hrothgar

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When will the Gophers present their 2021 softball schedule? Or will there be one? If so, it would begin next month surely. Anybody know?
 

AZGopher8

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My understanding is that the Big Ten is playing a conference only schedule. As we have seen with football...things could always change, but that makes it difficult to start in February. Unless the league gets creative with an indoor venue and a bubble scenario, I think you will see a much shorter season. The ACC is looking at a 50 game season with the vast majority being conference games - more than in a typical season. I could see the B1G waiting until late March or even April before league play begins.

The last news I heard was just prior to the Holidays, so I could be working with old news.
 

MplsGopher

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Do NCAA and/or Big Ten rules allow a conference season to be played in the earlier months in say Arizona?
 

AZGopher8

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Do NCAA and/or Big Ten rules allow a conference season to be played in the earlier months in say Arizona?

That would be another option to begin play earlier in the season. There are no rules against doing so by the NCAA or Big Ten. It is just a money and logistics question.

I think something like that would be awesome for the conference. The ACC was discussing a tourney type format to play extra conference games with 5-6 teams all at one location and playing differing opponents like most early season events. The B1G could do something like that at a southern venue and broadcast the games. That would be great for B1G softball teams and fans!
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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The Gophers are ranked No. 20 in D1Softball.com preseason top-25 rankings.

Link: Gophers ranked No. 20

If we can get on the field, I think this team could move up ten spaces throughout the season (up there with FSU/Texas/Oklahoma State). It should be a fairly deep team if we can just get a few of the Freshman and Sophomores to emerge as hitters who can make fairly regular contact. Michigan will be good of course, but I really see us as slight favorites against them.

I am too excited. They just need to find a way to get a season started within a month or so.
 
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ClassOf98Gopher

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#24 in coaches poll, UCLA unanimous #1

UCLA is going to be awesome... I mean “uber-awesome.” It is ridiculous that they get Garcia back. She is like 25 years old or so it seems. That team is so loaded.

Our Gophers should be pretty darn good. I read the D1 Softball article this morning (and Fall Report) on the Gophers and I just come back to how much movement upward in the rankings (from the 20-24 range we are seeing in the preseason rankings) will entirely be dependent on how well this big group of 8 Freshmen perform.

I don’t see us finishing much worse than the 20-25 range given just our 16 Sophomores to Super-Seniors alone. They can probably get us to that range by themselves absent any depth at all in that fictional scenario. Can several of these Freshmen really show themselves on the field so as to really provide team depth and drive our team performance clearly to the number 1 spot in the B10 and toward the top-10 teams in the nation?
 

rowdaboat

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If team plays like they did last year then it'll be high 20s, but definitely good enough to make WS again
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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If team plays like they did last year then it'll be high 20s, but definitely good enough to make WS again

To be fair to last year’s (2020) squad, they had Elle Jensen at about 85 percent only for those last 3 or 4 games of the season before the COVID shutdown...right about the point in the season when they were looking quite respectable. Just by putting her .400 bat in the lineup, made a noticeable difference in performance. That doesn’t mean we were a top ten team, just more like a high teens/low twenties ranked team by season’s end - in my opinion.

Does anyone have any inside information (rumors) as to how either the team in general or the freshmen in particular are looking so far?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Looks like conference only schedules for Big 10 softball and baseball.

I listened to Carol Hutchins on a podcast and it looks like it will be a 44 game Big Ten-only season prior to the NCAA TOURNAMENT. No Big Ten tourney this year so as to maximize and equalize the number of regular season games for all 14 Big Ten teams.
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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I listened to Carol Hutchins on a podcast and it looks like it will be a 44 game Big Ten-only season prior to the NCAA TOURNAMENT. No Big Ten tourney this year so as to maximize and equalize the number of regular season games for all 14 Big Ten teams.

That works out to 5 4-game series & 8 3-game series.
 

rowdaboat

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Minimum 40-4 required to host a super? SoS is going to suck compared to the SEC
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Minimum 40-4 required to host a super? SoS is going to suck compared to the SEC

My hunch is that any Big Ten team would need to record a record at least that good to host a Super. But, I think the best way to look at it this year is if they have the best record in the Big Ten, they will win the singular Conference championship for the year, which is a really good thing in and of itself. And from there, that team that wins the Big Ten will almost certainly host a regional... which would be great! We have only hosted two regionals in our history, correct? And what really is more fun than a 4 team double-elimination tournament weekend (especially if we won’t have a conference tournament to come off of from the previous week)?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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So I have been scanning other top softball programs’ roster-sizes which has usually been between 22 and 25 and it got me to thinking again about Megan Dray’s transfer to the Gophers. I have posted before that I thought this was a signal to us that the Athletic Department is going big on their support of softball. To take on another roster spot when they did, when they are cutting other sports programs, I think is telling.

But what I am really interested in is the position we can expect she will start the year at... presumably in the starting lineup for why else would they accept this transfer with 23 women already on the roster? Will it be at Catcher or at First Base? My best guess is... catcher?
 
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